We’ve been reading this children’s book a lot lately. It’s written and illustrated by Carson Ellis, the wife of The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, and given that food and music is kind of our jam here, I couldn’t help but get it. The title struck me: Home. To be honest, reading books to a toddler is often not as fun as I think it should be. We’re often re-reading her favorites, which are rarely my favorites. But Home has become a book she loves and I do, too. By now, Neko has memorized it (and I have, too):
“This is the home of a Slovakian Duchess.”
“This is the home of a Kenyan Blacksmith.”
“A babushka lives here.”
I have called a lot of places home. In total, I have lived in 12 different “homes.” Some of them have been actual houses and others apartments. Some have been more temporary than others. Some I barely remember. I have shared kitchens and bedrooms, had hardwood floors and carpet. At some point or another, I’ve referred to these places as home, and then one day, I didn’t.
“I’m going home.”
It’s a phrase I’ve uttered so many times. A phrase that has had no meaning and so much meaning at the same time. I thought the meaning of home a lot the second time I returned to San Francisco after our move. It had been 7 months since I’d been back and this time, I was by myself, staying at my friends’ apartment, just blocks from my old apartment. And I had all the feelings.
I felt like I’d dipped back into my old life, and it felt so normal, comfortable. I went to my old workout class in the morning. Grabbed a scone from my old neighborhood bakery. I squeezed in seeing as many people as I could around a packed work schedule. And I soaked up every bit of warm California sun that I could.
Could I still call it home?
I remember before the move, Matt told me that what I was already missing in San Francisco was not San Francisco itself, but everything it represented: the many years I spent living there. I became an adult in San Francisco. I built a name, a website, and some incredible friendships. And while it is not my current home, it will always be a home that I loved and still love.
I received a copy of Toast: The Cookbook shortly after giving birth to the twins (when we were living in that old home). To say that I had any intention of cooking anything at that point — even toast — is a lie. I flipped through the book on a number of occasions, making mental notes about recipes I was hoping to try at some point. Whenever I get a new cookbook, I usually zero in on “the one” — the recipe I absolutely MUST make right away. And I thought I’d found it back then. Though, this time, I was wrong.
Fast forward to months and months later, on a particularly gray and chilly day, I had stopped into a local cafe for coffee, but was lured by the food. Little open-faced sandwiches — toasts — piled high with various delicious toppings. The pickled egg salad is what got me, and I couldn’t have been more surprised.
We all begin to associate certain things with our homes — past and present — and now, this pickle-y egg salad is feeling a mighty lot like home. And with each day, Seattle and our house, feel more like the place I call now call home.
Pickle-y Egg Salad Toast
adapted from Toast: The Cookbook
For the egg salad:
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled then roughly chopped
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1/4 cup of finely chopped cornichon pickles
2 teaspoons of pickle brine (from the cornichons)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
For the toast: whole grain bread (toasted), sea salt, arugula, and finely chopped chives
Note: Raquel recommends thick, country-style bread for this toast and has a great technique for making toast in her book, but I opted for a shortcut: Dave’s Killer Bread, toasted in my toaster, topped with arugula, egg salad, and a few grinds of black pepper.
1. To make the egg salad: combine the chopped eggs and mayonnaise in a bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to smash them together, leaving a few chunks. Add the chopped cornichons, brine, green onion, celery, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
2. Toast your bread, then top with arugula and egg salad. Sprinkle with some sea salt, freshly ground pepper and finely chopped chives.